Child abuse survivor’s complaint over RTÉ News report rejected
Campaigner Mark Vincent Healy said bulletin presented him as ‘lonely, single, aging’
Mark Vincent Healy, who was interviewed for the RTE Prime Time documentary A Mission to Prey, photographed during an interview with Patsy McGarry in Dublin. Photograph: Frank Miller / THE IRISH TIMES
A complaint by a survivor of clerical child sexual abuse in relation to how he was presented in an RTÉ News bulletin on a meeting he held with Pope Francis has been rejected by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.
Mark Vincent Healy met with Pope Francis in 2014 to discuss an ESRI report on the economic impact of abuse on the lives of survivors in terms of household income and labour force attachment.
Mr Healy claimed he was presented as “a lonely single aging man” in his private life, in news bulletins on RTÉ One at 1pm and 9pm on August 15th, 2014.
He said he had not engaged with the broadcaster to speak about his personal life or circumstances, but as a campaigner seeking services which he said were “badly needed” for survivors of clerical child sexual abuse.
He said what was portrayed was “the social impact of living alone”, which was not the basis for his consent to participate in the interview.
Responding to the complaint, RTÉ said it was “sorry [he] felt let down” by the broadcast and that the clip was selected due to the “powerful testimony” which went to the core of the findings of the ESRI report.
It reiterated its “sincere regret” Mr Healy felt otherwise.
In its statement to the BAI, the broadcaster said Mr Healy was informed of the topic of the report beforehand, and that “it could not be reasonably expected that the dignity of the complainant could be prejudiced by the inclusion in the broadcast of his response to a question on abuse survivors living alone”.
The BAI rejected Mr Healy’s complaint and said the focus of the news item was new research focusing on older men who had been victims of child sexual abuse, and how this experience impacted upon them later in life.
Separately, two complaints in relation to segments on the Ray D’Arcy Show about the same-sex marriage referendum were dismissed.
Brendan O’Regan objected to broadcasts on May 7th and May 25th last year on the basis of fairness, objectivity and impartiality in current affairs.
The item on May 7th concerned a family in favour of a Yes vote who objected to their photograph being used on a poster advocating a No vote. Mr O’Regan alleged there was a “lopsided, unbalanced and partial discussion” about the poster.
RTÉ said a response from the group Mothers and Fathers Matter, who were advocating a No vote, was read out on the programme.
In the broadcast on May 25th – the day after the results of the marriage referendum – Mr D’Arcy referred to the result as “truly historic” and said he had “cried tears of pride” as it sent out a message that Irish people are “tolerant and inclusive”.
Mr O’Regan alleged: “Ironically, by celebrating inclusion, the presenter was excluding approximately 40 per cent of the electorate.”
RTÉ pointed out that impartiality guidelines issued for dealing with the referendum no longer applied as polling stations were closed.